Written by Cloé Vaz-Wiggins
Image by @eyeconicash
I’d like to start with this reminder: Every relationship will bring a specific set of challenges.
That is the only thing you know for sure as you enter any exchange with another human being. I’m not sure you can put those challenges in a scale and determine which is ‘better or worse’, after all when we’re in a challenging situation, we’re in it, period. Long-distance relationships are no different and are no exception. The only difference is that you start off aware of what one of the many challenges you’ll face will be and you start the relationship already committing to it. If you do, I promise you this: you’ll grow and surprise yourself in ways you never imagined, you’ll feel like you’re living in a fairy-tale and in a harsh reality all at the same time, but in the end, it will be worth it, both individually and with your partner.
For long-distance relationships have a tendency to push and force you to grow on both ends. And growth is always, always a good thing.
Before I get into it, I think it’s only right I give you some background on my experience with long-distance relationships and why I have so much to share about them.
From an outsider’s perspective, my parents have been in a long-distance relationship for most of my life, on and off for almost 30 years, I know, WOW! It wasn’t a premeditated choice at first, as we had to flee war and after that, with logistics of life, it sorts of just happened and it stayed that way.
From an insider perspective, I’ve been figuring out my own long-distance relationship for about 4 years now and so I’m in the arena, putting it in the work and discovering it as I go along. Two years of dating and almost two years married, both also on and off long-distance.
All of my tips, tricks, and inside scoops are based on both those experiences in case you were wondering.
So, how do you manage it? How do you connect and stay connected to your person when there are thousands of miles between you?
Make it a priority, be vulnerable, and be open.
You’ll always have to make sure you’re making space to communicate and touch base with your partner, if time differences are a thing it will be more challenging and will require some sacrifices from part to part. So, make sure you create a schedule that works for both and ensures you’re consistent with how and when you communicate with each other.
It’s easy to channel all communication to how you’re feeling; you miss each other, you want to be together, you reminisce and you end up speaking a lot about your feelings, so make sure you’re speaking as much about real-life scenarios too.
Speak about your values and how they’ll align when you’re physically together.
And last but not least, go there, be vulnerable, go deep, truly get to know the person, ask the hard questions, go beyond the surface.
The thing is, if you project whatever trauma or experience you had before onto a long-distance relationship, you’ll literally be making it immediately harder for yourself. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve taken a ‘master’s degree’ on traumatic experiences, so I know how hard this can be. But the anxiety and stress you’ll feel by deciding, based on past experiences, that you don’t trust this person are not worth it.
Try your best not to compare, don’t make up stories, and try not to project. Until this person gives you a reason, trust (no matter how terrifying it is)!
MAKING TIME FOR EACH OTHER
This is challenging, long-distance relationships usually imply that due to circumstances you can’t be in the same place. So, getting there will require financial and logistical efforts which will be different and specific to each person/situation.
With that in mind, when or how you can intentionally make time for each other.
Create some guidelines and make them a priority, for me and Codie one of them was we wouldn’t spend more than 3 months without seeing each other.
If you have some guidelines in place, you can plan and look forward to something together it’ll also give some structure to a very unstructured circumstance which is somewhat comforting.
When you reunite really make a conscious effort to make it special, make an event out of it, create the memories you want to have. Whether that’s on your side or the other person, or somewhere new for both of you, make sure you enjoy time with each other and the location you’re creating another piece of your story in. It’s easy to just want to make the most of the time together and sort of not do much, but trust me, creating the life you want is in the memories you paint.
The thing is, it takes a lot of work, but so do all relationships. So, don’t attach long-distance to your narrative as the reason why it takes work! Instead, if this is what you chose, for one reason or another keep choosing it. Keep choosing that person, keep choosing you two and do what you have to do to make it work. And in the process, try to cultivate and build a foundation of admiration and respect based on the values that matter most to both of you.
For that is the true legacy.